BACKGROUND: Vestibular patients show slower and unsteady gait; they have also been shown to need greater cognitive resources when carrying out balance and cognitive dual tasks (DT). This study investigated DT interference during gait in a middle-aged group of subjects with dizziness and unsteadiness after unilateral vestibular neuronitis and in a healthy control group. METHODS: Fourteen individuals with subacute unilateral vestibular impairment after neuronitis and seventeen healthy subjects performed gait and cognitive tasks in single and DT conditions. A statistical gait analysis system was used and spatio-temporal parameters were considered. The cognitive task, consisting of backward counting by three, was tape recorded and the number of right figures was then calculated. RESULTS: Both patients and controls showed a more conservative gait during DT and between groups significant differences were not found. A significant decrease in cognitive performance during DT was found only in the vestibular group. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that less attentional resources are available during gait in vestibular patients compared to controls, and that a priority is given in keeping up the motor task to the detriment of a decrease of the cognitive performance during DT.
Nascimbeni, A., Gaffuri, A., Penno, A., & Tavoni, M. (2010). Dual task interference during gait in patients with unilateral vestibular disorders. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-0003-7-47